tv Weekends With Alex Witt MSNBC February 18, 2012 4:00am-5:00am PST
>> good move, boise, idaho in adopting the poop fairy as your own. it worked great in colorado and colorado and boise, if you want to thank the original poop fairy, she was an overheated, adorable, slightly overweight chocolate lab. "weekends with alex witt" starts now. in just minutes we'll be speaking with nbc's pete williams. saying good-bye to whitney houston, hundreds are turning out for the singing superstar's funeral. we'll tell you who's expected to speak and sing at the event. in office politics, reverend al sharpton tells us about the whitney houston he knew. some personal reflections along with political talk. the fight for michigan, the latest polls in what could be a make or break moment for some of the republican candidates for president. good morning, everyone.
welcome to "weekends with alex witt." we're happy to be back with you here at 7:00 a.m. here on the east coast. we get to what's happening right now out there. this developing news, new information this morning on the arrest of a man who allegedly wanted to carry out a terror attack on the u.s. capitol building. police arrested the 29-year-old moroccan national on friday. he was wearing a vest he apparently thought was full of al qaeda-supplied explosives. undercover agents supplied the man with fake explosives. the agents had been in contact with the man since december in what was a sting operation. police stopped him in a parking garage just a few blocks from the capitol. nbc's pete williams will join me live from washington in just a few minutes with more of the details. let's go now to politics and mitt romney coming out swinging, taking aim at rick santorum during a campaign stop in idaho. romney compared his record to santorum's, urging voters to take a closer look at the former pennsylvania senator. >> you have within our own party different people to choose from.
we can all talk pretty well. i'm sure some talk better than others. but in terms of who's actually done it, who's actually led a business, who's turned around a business, who's actually helped turn around an olympics, who's led a state? i'm the only guy that's done that. if you want a fiscal conservative, you have to vote for me. i have a budget balanced. >> rick santorum is focusing on ohio today after picking up an endorsement by that state's attorney general. santorum spent friday in michigan where polls show him leading romney by a small margin. >> let me thank all of you for coming out. i love the enthusiasm. look, michigan can set this race on its ears. >> newt gingrich taking his message to his home state of georgia. one of the super tuesday states. the former speaker is banking on southern states to propel him back to the front of the pack. >> this is a wide open race.
the establishment decided and the elite media had decided that we were inevitably going to nominate mitt romney. i think it's pretty hard to argue after the last few days that he is mr. inevitable. >> let's get more now. i'm ed by mollie ball. good morning. michigan, this could be either romney's fire wall or bonfire. you spoke with michigan political experts there. what is their sense of the momentum in that state right now? >> all the momentum right now seems to be with rick santorum and this is, frankly, kind of shocking to people in michigan, political experts in michigan. you would think this would be a fire wall for romney. it's his home state, where he grew up, where his father was a popular governor. but at the same time, this is a very conservative state, a state with a lot of social conservatives in the areas outside of detroit. those suburban areas around detroit, you have more working class, blue collar republicans.
rick santorum has a natural appeal to both of those groups, coming from, you know, pittsburgh, the grandson of a coal miner. his whole personal story sells very well with those voters. we have yet to see a poll that shows romney ahead in michigan in the last few weeks. >> to that end we'll show a poll that has rick santorum leading by just a few points there. give me a big picture snapshot here. if romney loses michigan? >> it's devastating. you know? and we've seen, we've heard out of romney's camp a lot of confidence. his advisers there, his supporters there saying they are 100% confident that he's going to win this. so they're not doing anything to tamp down expectations. that means they'll have to live up to that. if he doesn't win and win big, it's very, very damaging for him. >> really? you think so? again, in this article when you talk about the two different scenarios with be this couldn't be just as you described, a blip, a speed bump, is how some people look at those three state wins by rick santorum, that
basically big picture mitt romney doesn't have this locked up? >> well, in the big picture, mitt romney won fewer primaries so far than rick santorum has. i think if he comes back, comes roaring back and has big wins in michigan and arizona, we will look back on those three primaries that rick santorum won the other day, missouri and minnesota and colorado, that will have been a speed bump. but if he doesn't, if romney's slide continues, then we'll look back on those three states and say that's when the wheels began to fall off, the beginning of the end potentially for romney. >> there was a big story for rick santorum this week. that is when his supporter, foster freese made this comment about birth control. >> this contraceptive things, back in my days, they used bayer aspirin for contraception. the girls put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly. >> i'm just trying to catch my
breath from that, quite frankly. >> a lot of women were going, huh? does this feel like an enduring moment to you? do you think it is? >> unfortunately for rick santorum, i think it is. when i heard that, it reminded me of the whole thing with romney and the dog on top of the car. >> right. >> one of those things that it may be trivial in the grand scheme of things, a trifle, it may not be fair to the candidate in question, but it just catches fire in the public imagination because it does, it sort of gives you whiplash, makes you turn around and go, what? anytime rick santorum is talking about his views on birth control, i think he's losing. i don't think most people agree with his personal view that birth control is bad and is damaging to women. now, he says that he wouldn't legislate that, that he wouldn't try to make everybody follow that dictate but i think this is an issue that reminds people how far to the right on that spectrum rick santorum is and that's not an endearing thing to
most voters. >> author of a great piece there in "the atlantic." molly ball. thank you. >> thank you so much. looking ahead, arizona and michigan are holding their primaries on the 28th. then you look ahead to next month, march is a busy month. the washington state republican caucuses, followed by super tuesday. after that it's the kansas republican caucuses and the alabama and mississippi primaries and hawaii's gop caucuses. later in the month, missouri will have its say. other other big story this morning, the funeral service for singer superstar whitney houston. a long list of familiar faces will attend today's private funeral at newark's new hope baptist church, where houston's singing career began. 1,500 guests are expected. nbc's cregg melvin is there for us live. what's happening there today? but i guess what's happening right now? do you see the setup? what's going on? >> no, we don see arrivals at this point. they have been setting up for
several days now. police have cordoned off a six-block radius around the church. new hope baptist church, as you mentioned, whitney houston, 48 years old, she'll be remember where had her professional career began many years ago as a gospel singer in the teen choir there. the funeral will be private. there was also a viewing last night for her family that was also private. i know we have video arrivals of that private viewing last night. her daughter, 18-year-old bobbi kristina was at that private viewing along with her grandmother, cissy houston. cissy houston, the may trtriarc that family. she had a private viewing along with clive davis, whitney houston's long-time mentor, professional mentor. as well we're told he was at the private viewing as well. today, the funeral. as you mentioned, will be a star-studded event. they are expecting a litany of music superstars as well as some
other stars as well, bill cosby, oprah winfrey. in erm its of performances, stevie wonder expected to perform and aretha franklin who we heard from yesterday on the "today" show. she had an interview with al roker. aretha franklin was whitney houston's god mother. aretha franklin and whitney's mother are very good friends for a very long time. we are expecting a musical remembrance today. but we are expecting a very, very private funeral as well. the church, new hope baptist church seats 1,500. we're told there will probably be somewhere around 500 in that church. a fairly small funeral when you compare it to some of the other ceremonies that we've seen for superstars in the past. >> absolutely. that point being they want to make this private. of course we will have access to a camera inside and to you as well. thank you so much. here's a reminder for all of you. we'll bring you the entire funeral service for whitney
houston. our coverage begins at noon eastern right here on "weekends with alex witt." i'll see you at that hour. let's get more now on the terror suspect at the u.s. capitol yesterday. pete williams is in washington with the latest on that. some story here. >> well, right, we've seen these sting operations before, including those that targeted the u.s. capitol or washington. federal agents say what makes this different is that the man they arrested was so intent on carrying out a terror attack here in the u.s. that he was willing to wear a suicide bomb himself, but as it turns out he never actually had any explosives. lease and fbi agents combed through the home of a 29-year-old man originally from morocco in the washington suburb of alexandria, virginia. he's accused of planning to wear a suicide vest and set it off at the u.s. capitol. he said he hoped to kill at least 30 people. fbi agents poses as al qaeda operatives had him under close
surveillance since early december. he said he wanted to attack a restaurant or u.s. military forces. then he decided his target would be the capitol building, perhaps its new ununderground visitors center, likely to be crowded with tourists or u.s. senate office building. >> we've seen suspects that wanted to detonate a device but did it from a distance. in al khalify's case, he wanted to be the martyr. >> reporter: they set off explosives in a practice run. around noon friday in a parking garage near the capitol, the undercover agents gave him a vest loaded with what he thought were explosives and a gun which turned out to be inoperable. he was arrested as he walked toward the capitol. >> his intention was to shoot capitol police outside the capitol, at the entrance of the capitol and go in and set off the vest. >> the fbi says it first became
interested in him a year ago after receiving a tip. investigators say it's impossible to know whether he could have pulled this off on his own if there had been no undercover operation but they say it's disturbing that he was willing to go so far, alex. >> you know, pete, you mentioned right at the top this is the kind of thing we've seen before, these sting operations. do you have a sense of how many there are out there? >> until we hear about them, it's impossible to know. that's a very good question. on the one hand, the number of these sort of home-grown operations did peak a couple years ago. there's been a recent study saying in the last year or so, the number has declined. i guess you could say they go up and down. it's just hard to snow how many of these operations are being run right now. >> okay. well, pete williams, thank you very much for all the details on this one. we appreciate it. >> you bet. the reverend al sharpton
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secretary of state hillary clinton is expressing cautious interest in an offer from iran to hold talks about its nuclear program. meanwhile, iran may be cut off from a crucial worldwide clearinghouse. joining me from washington is the national security reporter for "the washington post." good morning to you, jobe. >> good morning to you. >> yes, we're back at 7:00. get used to this.
the offer from iran, is this going to lead to talks? >> the last time iran said it wanted to talk, you know, it showed up and says we'll talk about anything except for our nuclear program. we want to talk about your nuclear program, not ours. there's this tortured history and the west has said, look, we'll talk with you if you're willing to do this unconditionally. this letter shows up saying we're ready to talk unconditionally, we're ready to talk about nukes. people are intrigued. is it real, is it not? we'll have to see. >> do you think this is an offer to try to buy time? >> that's the fear and i think the west this time is going to want to see what they call confidence building measures. that could be something like, okay, you have to freeze your production of enriched uranium, or allow inspection by inspectors. something that shows this is
serious and not to just give them more time. >> there's this net to cut off its banking around the world. that includes oil deals. wouldn't that kill their economy? >> they're already in trouble. this new thing the europeans want to do is cut them off from the swift network, the way banks move money around internationally. if they exclude iran from that they don't have a way to collect money from their oil sales. they're already in trouble. this could be something that could put them in a bind and hopefully force them to take this stuff seriously. >> have they gone as far as to describe what these talks would look like, what the format of negotiations and discussions would be? >> haven't gotten that far yet. i've covered these before. it's excruciating from a reporter's view. it's a bunch of people in a fabulous hotel behind closed doors, sometimes for hours and days. they come out and dribble out a statement every now and then. this is usually tedious and often not very satisfying at the end. >> how high do you think the
diplomatic level of involvement would be? we talked about secretary of state clinton saying she's got cautious optimism and interest in this. would it get that high that she'd be leading the talks? >> i think not unless it looks leak a breakthrough. last time around when there were talks she sent an undersecretary. she didn't go himself. if there was a sense we might have a breakthrough, she might go in person. i wouldn't bet on it at this point. >> what about the worry of the domino effect, joby, that were iran to develop nuclear arms that everybody else in the middle east would want to do so with saudi arabia, starting right there. if iran gets them, they're getting them. >> exactly. that is the most frightening thing. north korea has a couple of nuclear weapons. nobody gets that excited. they're fairly contained. they're not growing their arsenal. they can't do anything with a couple nuclear weapons anyway. for iran, the bigger fear is, if they get one, everybody else in the neighborhood is going to want one, too.
things can get out of control quickly. that's why the west feels they have to be stabbed here. >> joby, warrick, thank you. >> take care. thank you. your top three money headlines next here on "weekends with alex witt." when it comes to paint... ...there's one brand that always tops the charts. so let's grab a few of those gallons- at a price that's now even lower. 'cause when we mix behr ultra paint and primer in one... ...with a few hours... ...we get more than just color... ...we get top-rated coverage. the kind wakes up walls, and reinvents rooms. more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot. behr ultra paint and primer in one now starts at just $29.38, it's lowest price ever. ♪ you and me and the big old tree ♪ ♪ side by side, one, two, three ♪ ♪ count the birds in the big old tree ♪
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stocks are on the rise. the dow closing the week at a more than three-year peak. the pain at the pump also growing. forecasts for the summer are bleak on that front. bring on the bargains. serious sales available this presidents' day weekend. here to get through all of it with us is our analyst vera gibbons. good morning to you. >> good morning. >> what's behind the drive for wall street's positive direction? >> an important psychological mark we're at, nearly 13,000, we'll take it. >> sure. >> the european finance ministers are meeting on monday, expecting to accept a proposal there. we're optimistic on that front. that would help greece avert default. also, the economic debt has been positive as well. that's propelling tocks higher. the dow is up 6% for the year. >> let me bring on the bad news now. the gas prices. >> yes. >> this year getting high, scary numbers. >> very high. we haven't seen gas prices this high this early on in the year.
we're at $3.52 a gallon. that's ridiculous. we're only in february. you have a number of reasons pushing that higher from refineries being shut down on the east coast, middle east tensions rising. we could maybe even see $5 by memorial day. every 50 cent increase takes $500 million out of the economy. >> how about since we all want to save a penny where we can, the presidents' day sales, where are the good ones? >> big weekend for shopping. winter apparel. you're talking up to 70% off whatever is left over. i know you like to ski, maybe a winter jacket or whatever. that's heavily discounted, furniture, people spruce up their homes, up to 50% off there, up to 70% off the showroom models. this is the time of year they swap them out. exercise equipment. people made resolutions to lose weight, they want to extend the momentum.
good deals there. these are the first markdowns on bathing suits, up to 35% off for people taking vacations. >> good. though we're out of town, there are car sales this weekend. >> not as good as people think, though, 15% savings off of 2011. only 11% off of 2012. minor discounts on cars. >> thanks for the heads up. >> thanks. in this morning's one-minute play back, willie geist was coerced into playing andy cohen's play the fifth game. willie refused to cave, god love him. >> willie geist, who is smarter, joe or mika? >> ow! >> mika. >> willie ghost, tell us one embarrassing thing about brian williams that might annoy him. >> smells like bologna. >> willie geist, who is the hottest female politician right
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for us once again. so manufacture her fans want to be a part of this in some way. just how close are people going to be able to get to the new hope church? >> reporter: not close at all. not close at all, alex witt. police here in newark have gone to great lengths to make sure that does not happen. they have cordoned off a six-block radius around that church. i want to take you closer as well and show you precisely what is happening at new hope right now. you can see outside. there's a cadre of police officers who have gathered there. they're getting a briefing about how to proceed over the next few hours. there's a makeshift memorial that's been set up by the hundreds of fans and mourners who have stopped by this church over the past several days, balloons and teddy bears and flowers. as you mentioned, before we all knew whitney houston, they knew her here in newark. she was singing in the gospel
choir that her mother led at the age of 11. that's where the singing started before she started singing in nightclubs in new york city. her god mother, aretha franklin is expected to be one of the many performers throughout the service today. she spoke yesterday exclusively to al roker. take a listen to what the queen of soul had to say. >> she didn't just smile with the lips. she had a twinkle in her eye. since it happened i wrote a little something with that in mind. and that was twinkle twinkle superst superstar, we don't wonder where you are. up above the world so bright, like a diamond in the night, twinkle twinkle she stood alone. i can't believe that she's gone.
>> reporter: aretha franklin there, of course, talking about whitney houston. franklin one of the performers here, stevie wonder set to perform, alicia keys set to perform, r. kelly expected to sing as well. she'll be eulogized by marvin winans, reverend winans will eulogize. there will be speakers and performers throughout the day. the funeral set to start at noon. we are told it will last about an hour and a half. however, there are very few people who believe it will just last an hour and a half. alex. >> i would think the tributes will be coming in and people want to have their say. we'll see you again at noon. craig melvin, many thanks for standing by there. whitney houston was honored at the naacp image awards. they showed images of houston being given past awards and then singer yolanda adams sang a spiritual as part of the tribute. ♪ i love the lord
>> after that song, adams said, quote, we love you. we bring you coverage beginning at noon eastern right here on "weekends with alex witt." we'll see you then. meantime, strategy talk and mitt romney stepping up the attacks on rick santorum. santorum is leading romney in the latest michigan poll with the primary taking place february 28th. romney made a quick campaign stop in idaho last night. here's what he said about santorum's record. >> i know senator santorum is getting his moment in the spotlight now, which is a good thing. i hope people take a close look at his record. he was in congress for about 20 years and during that time, the size of the federal government doubled during his time in office. and by the way, he voted to raise the debt ceiling five different times without compensating cuts. and he's a big proponent of
earmarks. >> we'll bring in our panel now. ed rendell is the former democratic governor of pennsylvania and nbc news political analyst. joe watkins is a republican strategist and former aide in the george h.w. bush white house. good morning to you both. >> good morning, alex. >> i want to ask you, joe, because you have actually a personal sense of rick santorum. you ran against him for the u.s. senate seat there on the gop ticket back in '94 in pennsylvania. >> that's right. that's right. >> so your take of him right now? you have a personal view as well. >> well, is he certainly not somebody to be underestimated. he's a hard-working candidate. i think he has a work ethic that's second to none. i know that in pennsylvania when he was running for the u.s. senate that first time, he visited all 67 counties and talked individually with every county chairman and lots of people in those counties. he's a hard-working guy. you've got to give him that. mitt romney has made a tactical error by underestimating him and ignoring him up until now. because the further to the right
that rick santorum moves mitt romney, the tougher it is going to be if mitt romney is the nominee, to challenge barack obama successfully. >> all good points you make there. ed, you're a seasoned politician. is it your sense that mitt romney may be on the way to losing michigan? you just heard joe say he's a hard-working guy and he's been putting in some time there. if that were to happen, assess where the campaign goes from there. >> i think joe's right. rick santorum is a campaigner and he's effective and he's a likable guy. i think it's too early to count mitt romney out in michigan. remember, after romney lost the south carolina primary, the early florida polls had him losing to newt gingrich and he wound up winning by, i think, 14 points as i recall, alex. you can't count mitt romney out, number one. number two, i think rick santorum was hurt by the flap about contraception, what his leading supporter said. i think republican women, independent women, remember, michigan is an open primary.
independents and democrats can vote. i think that's going to hurt rick santorum. >> ed, i agree with your assessment on the south carolina to florida situation but you'd think in michigan, mitt romney would have that locked up, that the polls we're seeing now, these numbers i believe the latest one had rick santorum ahead by four points in that state, i mean, you'd think michigan would be a lock. >> yeah, but the day after the primary, and correct me if i'm wrong, there was a poll that had rick santorum up 12 or 14 points. >> he's whittling it down. >> there's no question about that. i suspect he's going to win it on primary day. does all this expose the weakness of mitt romney as a candidate? yes. is all this good news for barack obama? absolutely. again, don't underestimate rick santorum. he's only lost once and i have to tell you, the reason he lost, alex, is because i was at the top of the ticket. no. i'm kidding. i'm kidding. >> there you have it. who's going to argue with that,
ed. what about joe with romney and attacking santorum right now? let's say romney loses michigan, the race clearly gets thrown wide open again. how damaging is this for the gop at this snapshot in time? >> like i said earlier, rick santorum is a hard-working candidate. mitt romney has a great organization. he's well financed. michigan is his home state. his dad was governor there. and i agree with governor ed rendell, that mitt romney stands a great chance to come from behind and to win. he has momentum and he's picking up steam in the polls. it wouldn't be a surprise to see him win michigan, his home state. but he's going to continue to have to work hard. rick santorum has a following now. and a lot of the momentum. he's going to have to work hard to blunt that, neutralize that, especially super tuesday is not that far away. >> yes. >> alex, i think joe's right. one thing we've ignored, i think all of this really spells the end for newt gingrich. i think even newt gingrich's super tuesday strategy is going
to be compromised because rick santorum is establishing himself as the clear conservative alternative. >> okay. real quick, ed, with your perspective there from pennsylvania politics, do you think rick santorum has the ability to beat romney and do you think he would have the ability to beat president obama? >> well, the last question, absolutely not. rick's social views are so out of the mainstream that i don't think he can be electioned in the general election. can he win the republican nomination? there's a possibility, for the first time i'd say there's a possibility. i still like mitt romney's chances. >> ed rendell and joe watkins, we like you both. >> thanks so much. >> thanks, alex. in this week's office politics we talked with the reverend al sharpton and discussed his connection to whitney houston and her family. but we begin with the improving unemployment picture and its impact on the race for the white house. >> i think that people are more hopeful than they were.
it's still a lot of unemployment, still a lot of poverty but the signs are the best signs we've seen in so long. so it's almost like if you're trapped in a dark tunnel and you finally see a light. you just hope it's not the train coming. you hope it's sunshine. but it's a light. so it gives you hope. and i think that that's where people are. >> given a positive trend like that, how far do you think that goes towards helping the president get himself re-elected? >> i think it helps. i think the economy is absolutely a deciding factor in any election. and whoever is in charge gets the blame or the credit to some degree. i think the reason that it even more so helps president obama is because he's been so trashed by the republicans. they blame so much, everything, on him. that it gives people that don it
the like the republican policy or want to be supportive of him, it energizes them with an i told you so, ready to go and ready to use this for the ultimate defense. i think it is particularly helpful to president obama. >> let's get to what happened this week, the tragedy, a week now since the passing of whitney houston. as you've had time to reflect on all this, what are your thoughts? >> i would see her from time to time. i knew her as a genuinely good person. yes, she had her challenges. yes, she went through, what she admitted, her bouts with the dark side. she was a spiritual person. i couldn't deal with it. it's still an unreal thing to me. such a vibrant spirit. the thing that bothered me more than anything, that night i talked to the guy who directed the retake -- remake i should say of "sparkle," the movie she
just completed in january. he said she was all the way back. reverend al, you're going to see how vibrant she is, how well she sings when the movie comes out. her story is not one of a fallen star. it's one that fell and got back up and we were not able to celebrate her rise. >> what is it about singers in particular, you think, that battle these particular demons? >> i think that there are several things. one, they, because they live in this such extreme bizarre existence, they attract all kinds of bizarre people. unless you have the right people around you, that are not there to just, you know, kind of go along with -- >> enablers. >> they become enablers rather than real helpers. that's why i admire cissy houston. her mother stood by her through it all and tried to deal with the fact that the enablers were not going to do what was right.
i think that's part of it. i think part of it is is the emptiness and loneliness of being such a star. you can't do normal things. i think that you can't use that time of loneliness to allow, as my mother used to say, the devil to do his work and make you become susceptible to other things to eat up your time. >> one can only imagine, i mean, it is not the nature of this world that a parent is supposed to bury a child. doesn't happen that way. >> right. >> you know her mom. i mean, did she fear this would happen, that whitney would go too soon? >> we never had that conversation. and i do know that she had participated in a healing session for her daughter and others in harlem, at a harlem church. i went and spoke, about three, four years ago. i certainly think she understood the gravity of it, not only for whitney but for a lot of people.
but i don't know that she feared death or not. i don't know. we never had that personal conversation. but obviously, it's an awesome burden for a mother or father to bury their own. it's just not supposed to happen that way. >> no, it is not. our office politics conversation will continue tomorrow, reverend al will tell us about his beginnings as a boy preacher. you can, of course, watch reverend al sharpton on "politics nation" weekdays at 6:00 p.m. eastern on msnbc. a new public policy polling survey ranks america's most popular presidents of all time, taking the top prize, our first president, 89% judge george washington favorably, 3% unfavorably. abraham lincoln ranking second with an 85% favorability rating. thomas jefferson, teddy roosevelt and john adams complete the top five. here's the question about the least popular president, richard nixon.
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one new cardinal in particular has been getting a lot of attention this week, the archbishop of new york, timothy dolan. he's been serving as the president of u.s. conference of catholic bishops. edwin o'brien was also elevated today. he's heading one of the papal orders focused on holyland. alex? >> david ushery, thank you. the overnight sensation for the new york knicks is surely showing some smarts off the court. the phenom jeremy lin has filed for trademark rights on the term linsanity, which has been the most popular buzz word for his sudden rise to glory. up next, his magic carpet ride hits a bump. ♪[music plays]
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. the new york knicks, a thrilling seven-game win streak was snapped last night with a loss at new orleans or nets. the loss is still grip we'd the lin sanity out there that has spawned that string of wins. all while pulling budding star guard jeremy lin from on security and making him a name echoed around the globe. joining me from washington, kevin blackstone, a commentator for espn. kevin, good morning. >> good morning. how are you? >> i'm well, thank you. do you think jeremy lin is for real? is he long term? >> i do think he's long term. i think jeremy lin has suffered from the fact that the people in the nba who choose the talent didn't believe that his talent could be packaged in the physical nature that it is. and that is being asian-american. he averaged 18 points a game in his senior year at harvard. he put up 30 points against one of the best teams in the country while he was there. and the university of connecticut, but nobody believed an asian-american player could
play as well as a black player or even a white player in nba and therefore he didn't get a fair shake when he came out of college. >> let's take that a step further, that discussion. you know boxer floyd may weather, he put out there and said the reason he's getting all this attention is because he is asian. what do you make of that notion? >> i believe what floyd may weather to be said to be true which is unusual because usually i dismiss everything that comes out of his mouth, but in this case i think that's correct. we in this country get at tralted to first. this is a first. actually a second because there was a japanese-american play whole played three games with the knicks in the 1940s shortly after world war ii concluded. but clearly in theed modern nba this is a first. and i think that was the reason for much of the original attention given to jeremy lin. then of course the story just became phenomenal. he just kept scoring more and more points. he kept winning. he was in new york city. the biggest media market in the
country. and so this was a confluence of a number of things that made him a spectacular story. >> quite a recipe for success there. do you have a sense of how his fellow teammates or others in the nba feel about him? >> you know, i can only judge from afar because i haven't been to any of their games. but just looking at the anythings, before jeremy lin arrived at the knicks, the knicks were losing. they seemed to be a team that wasn't having a lot of fun going through the season. and all of a sudden jeremy lin comes and he infuses excitement not only in the arena but with the team and you see them just bumping and high fiving and everybody has got smiles on their faces but i think he's become kind of an infectious personality not only with the knicks but in the league. everybody is talking about him. and no one has anything bad to say about him. everybody can empathize with his story. >> here's a guy at harvard.
so how much do you think intelligence factors into his performance? there are those who suggest a baseball could be a thinking person's game. you've got to analyze. basketball is more reactive on the court. >> yeah, i think you make a good point there, but i think sometimes people over an niz the nba as well, too, and over-analyze the importance of intellect in playing these games. i think the most important thing about jeremy lin and the way he approaches the game is the fact that we he plays the game in a style that might -- the coach of the knicks likes. he is a korman's steve nash, if you will, who is a two-time mvp in this league. >> kevin blackstone, exciting to talk with you. that's a wrap of this hour of "weekends with alex witt" join me for a regular two-hour and we will cover whitney houston's funeral. straight ahead, more smart political talk on "up with chris hayes" here in studio.
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